Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcase / Gordon K. + Cemetery News

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 27/12/2013

Gordon K was admitted to Willard in September of 1962.  The inner lining of his small grip was different than most we have seen.  More like flannel than anything else.

This morning Cris was reading the news on her computer and forwarded this story to me.  I couldn’t help but think about the Willard cemetery, and the work that Colleen Spellecy is doing  at the Willard Cemetery Memorial Project and that Lin Stuhler is doing at her Inmates of Willard site.  After watching the piece, I was curious about how the group was able to get names from the state.

10 Responses

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  1. Maureen said, on 27/12/2013 at 12:31 pm

    I also that report and immediately thought of the Willard Cemetery. These laws are state-by-state. I wonder if there is any application of FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) available. . .

  2. lsstuhler said, on 27/12/2013 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Jon, It does go state by state and FOIL doesn’t work in New York State, I already tried. What I find amazing is that Middletown and St. Lawrence State Hospital will give you the information on your ancestor / loved one but Willard won’t. I have the list of Binghamton patients on my blog. I spoke to Tim Ragazzo in Senator Joe Robach’s office and he assured me that as long as he holds his position, he will keep introducing the bill until it becomes a law. It will be introduced again in January 2014. It would be nice if all the State Hospitals and Custodial Institutions would all release this information in a searchable, digital database. Thanks! -Lin

  3. Stacey T said, on 30/12/2013 at 10:11 am

    Finally got to the Exploritorium in San Francisco to check out the exhibit. It is really amazing!!! The only thing I wuold have preferred would have been to have been there on an adult only evening and to have had more time to really read each thing and thing about it…..

  4. Kaity said, on 02/01/2014 at 1:34 pm

    It seems this is a time of discovering all sorts of different stories and events linked to your project.

    Just this morning I stumbled upon Lucy Ann Lobdell/Joseph Israel Lobdell–a person born female who, after various trials and tribulations, and the birth of her daughter, took to dressing as a man to be allowed to do work for a man’s pay. Lucy took to calling herself Joseph and eventually fell in love with and was married to a Marie Perry by an unsuspecting judge–likely marking the pair as the first recorded homosexual marriage in America. While there is plenty of discussion of what to label him as (lesbian, transgender, etc) Lucy/Joe was pursued and persecuted for most of his life and eventually forcibly committed to… Willard! Imagine my surprise! There isn’t much on this story–a few biographies and one autobiographical text written by Lucy shortly after she began dressing as Joe.

    I was wondering if you had found a suitcase for Lucy A. L. or, possibly, Joseph I. L.? All accounts do seem to agree that Joe dressed and acted as a man during his time in Willard.

    I just thought this was an incredibly interesting tidbit to accompany your project 🙂

    Here are the links I’ve found, each by authors of Lucy’s biographies:

    • joncrispin said, on 02/01/2014 at 1:48 pm

      Kaity, Wow, so interesting and I appreciate the link. It is so amazing to me what doors this project has opened. Lucy Ann / Joe’s story is amazing. Thanks so much for noticing this and sending it along. All best, Jon

    • lsstuhler said, on 23/01/2014 at 9:47 am

      Lucy’s story is documented in the book The Lives They Left Behind by Darby Penney.

  5. […] who are working diligently to honor the dead by attaching names to the numbers.  Click here and here to read those previous […]

  6. Angelika BC said, on 19/11/2014 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you for your wonderful work. I have seen all his work and has moved me. There are images that touch us the soul and those of you do.I think that people have a right to our identity and is sad to see how you transform into a number. The owners of these bags cross a threshold where stolen his last name to change it to a number. It is sad and I agree with you of the importance of knowing the last name. I was looking for information for my profession, my interest in places and abandoned objects, abandoned people, my own experience and that of my family. Fortune and my curiosity made me discover your work. There are no words to describe such beauty. Have I reached the depths of the soul.Your pictures made me cry, and that is good. Freda B. case reminds me of my grandmother, Frieda Blume, she emigrated from Berlin to New York during the war to disappear in a Assylum. The figure of the dog is present in my dreams. Dmytre´s German-English Dictionary. I badly speak in English that I admire his courage to learn.
    Please continue with this wonderful project, and if your you can return his name to this forgotten people, we will do a great favor to those who have lost our family. By my grandma Frieda Blume to we could not find it, thanks a million.
    I am Angelika Blume. And I was also a number.

    • joncrispin said, on 24/11/2014 at 11:47 am

      Angelika, I just sent you an email. Thank you so much for your comment.

  7. Angelika BC said, on 19/11/2014 at 12:17 pm

    Sorry. I write bad English. 😦

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